Henrik Fisker may no longer be associated with Fisker Automotive, but he along with the company’s COO and the U.S. Department of Energy are under fire today in a government committee. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is having a hearing to question the original loan, calling it “green energy oversight.”
Fisker has been faced with obstacle after obstacle, from having its lithium-ion battery supplier A123 Systems declare bankruptcy to losing more than $30 million in inventory due to Hurricane Sandy, when 338 Karma sedans were destroyed at a port. The Karma had a couple high-profile recalls, and while Consumer Reports was testing a car, it shut down. Fisker has eliminated about 75 percent of its workforce, and missed a loan payment deadline on Monday.
Another report now suggests that the government was warned as early as 2010 that the company was not meeting milestones for its $529 million loan, though the Department of Energy provided a total of $192 million until June 2011, when funding was frozen. The DOE’s former acting director of the Advanced Technologies Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM), Nicholas Whitcombe, says that the loan program has helped move the industry in the right direction.
“Four years ago, the American automobile industry was on the brink of collapse during a historic economic crisis,” Whitcombe said in a prepared statement. “Now, in part because of help from the ATVM program, America’s automotive industry is reinventing itself – expanding production, growing profits, creating jobs, and making more fuel efficient automobiles.”
Henrik Fisker’s statements provided an overview of the company’s history and denied that the automaker received loans due to political connections. “Let me be clear: I am not aware and do not believe that any improper political influence was used in connection with the company’s loan application or subsequent negotiations with the Department of Energy,” Fisker said in a prepared statement.
Fisker and the company’s current COO, Bernhard Koehler, insist that the design and engineering work for the less expensive and more technologically advanced Atlantic is nearly complete. Although the company has raised $1.2 billion in private funds so far, it’s unclear what the future holds for Fisker.
Fisker ended his prepared testimony with the following statement:
“In spite of all these setbacks, I want to make clear that Fisker Automotive accomplished many notable achievements. We engineered and brought to market an exceptional new vehicle technology that won acclaim from customers and reviewers alike. Fisker still has the potential to build on that success if the company can secure financial and strategic resources. I sincerely hope that the company can find a way to move forward and repay its Department of Energy loans.”